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Joint weaknesses in argentium


#1

I’ve seen posts raising concerns over joint weaknesses in Argentium
silver work. I’ve been using Argentium, mostly the 960, since 2009,
and have had issues as well - and resolutions to two separate
concerns:

  1. Use the new solders!

Low melting alloys in the original solders spread out as it was
heated, and left behind an isolated lump with a high melting point.
Pretty hard to work with, right? It took additional heat, and a bit
of sweat on the brow to get those joins to fill! And then, just how
good was the seam? Be sure that your solders are of the new
formulation! Argentium solders have changed since they were first
offered.

The new Argentium solders, since Legor took on the licensing and
manufacturing, flow easily, taking less heat, and leave behind
joints which I have yet to find fail. I use mostly the middle
solder, as I understand that it actually has the highest silver
content and is, therefore, the best match to the work.

  1. Don’t over-use the pickle solution!

With the least sideways pressure, I had posts just pop off of
earrings. This was the result of poor procedure. I engaged in some
sloppy practices from time to time, and left the work in the pickle
for a pretty long time as I turned to other work - sometimes
casually leaving work to pickle overnight.

There are differences in metal content in solder compared to mill or
casting stock. Now, keep in mind that different metals have
different electrical properties. Any two metals, or alloys, with
different electrical properties, when immersed in any acid solution,
will set up a cell (battery) between the two metals, corroding the
less pure metal through galvanic action. The solders are less pure
than either 960 or 935, so will corrode, and, therefore, weaken as
it is left in the acid pickle. My work is all 960, so the effect
aught to be more pronounced.

So watch your pickle time! I have had no problems whatever since
attending to how long my pieces remain in the pickle solution. A few
minutes is all that is needed. More is both unnecessary and unwise,
and can lead to joint weakness.

Hope that my experience helps.